Probation Department

The 85th District Court Probation Department provides adult probation services for offenders over the age of seventeen that are convicted of misdemeanor offenses. A person is granted probation by the presiding Judge. Probation is a sentence that allows the offender to reside in their community under the supervision of the probation officer. This department provides supervision in Manistee and Benzie counties and has an average case load of approximately 2,000 probationers.

The 85th District Court Probation Department, under the direct supervision of the Judge, is committed to the protection of the community through innovative and aggressive monitoring to help reintegrate criminal offenders into society as law abiding productive citizens. The typical term a person is placed on probation for is 6 to 24 months.


The Probation Department is entirely funded by the fees offenders pay. The department has its own budget, and is always "in the black." The offender is required to pay a minimum payment monthly on his or her fines, cost and or restitution. This is part of accepting responsibility for their actions.

Referrals to Other Agencies

The abuse of alcohol and drugs is the factor most highly correlated with criminal conduct that the court sees. For this type of offender, referrals are made to various agencies that will help address their personal alcohol and or drug related issues. The goal of the Probation Department is to help these individuals improve their lives by total abstinence. Referrals to other specific agencies are an important and regular part of supervision, for matters such as:

  • Anger management
  • Community work programs
  • Drug and alcohol courts
  • Employment and skill building
  • Further screening and assessment
  • Ignition interlock services
  • Impact weekend
  • Leg or home tethers
  • Victim impact panel
  • Zero tolerance daily testing

These are just a few of the many types of referrals made regularly by the Probation Department.

Building Good Habits

The Probation Department believes that "good habits build good people." Our theory of probation is the reinforcing of habits that lead to success in life, and the avoidance of temptations that diminish one’s prospects. What we are referring to here are the positive and productive habits, such as remaining sober, doing honest work, meeting one’s obligations in life, and thereby developing the strength of character necessary to live an ethical life in a free society.